Please don't read this unless you've already read The Awakened!
Recently, one reader expressed some interest in knowing more about Ukiru’s background. Since I don’t plan on including this info in future books (unless I publish a collection of short stories like some authors do), I thought it would make a good blog post (it’s too long to add as a comment).
Hope you like it!
“But years ago, one of our citizens committed a crime and then disappeared.” (Matsuri talking to Kael in an excerpt from The Awakened)
Ukiru was a troubled individual from the time of his youth, stemming mostly from his exceptional fighting skills which bred an arrogance that prevented him from appreciating the more sophisticated qualities of his culture. Unable to accept criticism or correction from his elders, he repeatedly lashed out in ever more dangerous ways. Finally, as I hinted at in The Awakened, he went too far and murdered one of his instructors. In shame, he escaped the Fortress City and never returned.
Struggling to survive on his own in a dangerous world, Ukiru quickly learned that his best asset was his ability to fight. Over the years, he eventually worked his way into a high ranking military position for a powerful warlord. But his inner demons reared their heads again. Though his skills had won him a privileged life, he resented the fact that he was really only a mercenary. After several incidents that made this fact painfully obvious to him, he secretly made contact with the King who had been trying for years to rid his kingdom of these dangerous competitors for his throne. In exchange for a position under the King, he promised to assassinate the warlord. Though the attempt was successful, it didn’t occur as secretly as planned. When word spread of the bloody assassination, the remaining warlords abandoned their individual efforts to seize the throne and pooled their resources, realizing that the war had just changed dramatically. No longer was the King fighting with honor, but with treachery. In response to this unintended effect, the King disavowed any knowledge of the assassination and committed some of his resources to finding the assassin and killing him.
Ukiru became a hunted man. The warlords wanted to take him prisoner to find out the truth behind the assassination. And the King wanted him dead. After many months of living on the run, Ukiru was cornered and captured by the warlords. But, someone else had plans for him.
Magnus, whose ambitions were already far-reaching by this point, learned of the assassination through his vast network of spies. Knowing what a tremendous feat it was for one man to kill the warlord and all his guards, he watched with great interest the developing politics of this region, waiting for the time to make his move. Then, after Ukiru was captured, Magnus used his “other-worldly” powers to rescue Ukiru and his enormous resources to bring him undetected to the Orudan Empire.
In that moment, their unusual relationship was born.
After watching the display of Magnus’ awesome power and resources, Ukiru had finally found someone who was smarter and more powerful than himself—a worthy superior. And Magnus had just obtained the last piece of a puzzle that he had been constructing—the most gifted warrior that this remote country had ever produced. Together, they would be capable of producing the finest human instruments for the All Powerful’s purposes.
So, in exchange for his safety, Magnus offered Ukiru a chance at a more-peaceful and respectable life. To raise a group of children and discipline their bodies and minds for future use. Ukiru accepted. And in all the years that followed, Ukiru’s loyalty never faltered. Even during his secret errands for Mangus that sent him into numerous countries throughout the earth, he never considered running away, because Magnus was the only one capable of finding him and holding him accountable to their arrangement.
As happens with those in power, Magnus trusted very few individuals, and had no close friends. Over the years, his trust in Ukiru grew and their tense arrangement softened into a sort of friendship, with each confiding in each other as much as one could with a business partner.
And this is how they remained, locked in a bizarre dance of power, bound together until that fateful day when someone upset the balance.